The federal government is to procure 10,000 tractors from the United States-based John Deere Agriculture and Farming Equipment Company within the next five years.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, gave the hint at a meeting with a management team from Namel and John Deere International Agriculture Equipment Company in Abuja, recently.
The minister said that the procurement, which would be under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, was aimed at providing mechanised services for farmers so as to facilitate farming and boost food production. He noted that the tractors would cost an average of N12 million per tractor, while the tractors would have a range of 65, 75, 83 horsepower.
“We want to render mechanised services to smallholder farmers who are in the majority and sometimes, we can subsidise the services at a lower level. We will acquire 10,000 tractors in the next five years at an average cost of N12 million per tractor but there are smaller ones that cost less.
“The smallholder farmers are not expected to buy the tractors but they will rely on service providers who will render services to them during the planting season at a 5-per-cent lower rate than the market price. We want to take the financial and mechanical burden off the farmer so that he can spend as little as N15, 000 on his ground tilling in a year.
“And because we have done soil tests, we have given the farmer rice seeds, we have taught the farmer how to farm, the farmer, therefore, spends little energy and just watches his or her crops grow. We can even wait for the harvest season for the farmers to pay for these services,’’ he said. Ogbeh said that the country would need about one million tractors to enable it to meaningfully engage in effective agriculture within the next 10 years.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Mark Von-Pentz, president of John Deere, said that the partnership was an opportunity for the nation to fast-track its agricultural production. “You have natural resources, good land, good rainfall and climate. Nigerian farmers are knowledgeable, motivated and passionate; what we have can double easily the output of their farms, we are looking forward to partner with Nigeria.
“We believe in the country and we believe we have solutions which we can use to make Nigeria to prosper in the near future,’’ he said. Also speaking, Mr. Jason Brantley, managing director of John Deere, said that the partnership would facilitate Nigeria’s efforts to attain food security.’’
Brantley said that the main objective of the company was to bring smart agriculture to the country by assisting smallholder farmers to acquire technology, while expanding their access to finance and mechanised equipment. John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, an American corporation which manufactures agricultural, construction and forestry machinery, among others.
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